Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Definite Possibilities

Check it out:

They did it right: Jim Henson productions did all the monsters, and Maurice Sendak not only asked Spike Jonze to direct, he was in on all the scripting and filming. I have high hopes for this one, as it's always been a favorite children's book of mine.

Quick food prep tip

I want to thank my friend M for giving me this tip:

Do any of you get the terrible, teary, burning, sting-y eyes that I get when slicing onions? I've tried burning a candle, clamping my mouth shut the whole time, you name it. Those methods work partially, but it all usually ends up with me screwing my eyes up in pain, staggering around the kitchen, and making inarticulate squawks as I lunge at my face with a towel, desperately trying to appease my poor eyeballs.

So here's the deal: Take a slice of throw-away bread (you know, not the nice stuff) and bite gently down on it so most of it is hanging out of your mouth while you cut the onion. The bread absorbs all the onion fumes because it's so porous, and voila!, just like Johnson's, no more tears! No NOTHING! Just chuck the oniony smelling bread, into the compost heap, of course.

Ta-daaaaaaah! You're welcome.

Monday, March 30, 2009


I spent the majority of this weekend reading rough drafts of research essays, most of which answered the question, "Does evil exist?" and putting forth three topics that answer the question. So now that I've spent hours reading about child and animal abuse, molestation, terrorism, serial killers, genocide, arson, and abortion PLUS banging my head on the table as I read the umpty-umpth sentence "They don't care who there hurting" or "There reasons are evil to", I have to distract myself with something delightful. Seriously, one essay had me sobbing and ready to sign my entire paycheck over to the SPCA. They obviously were into their topics, which was great, but I'm emotionally exhausted. T was wonderful this whole week and weekend, cooking me dinner, massaging my neck, and generally showing masses of support. Thank you, honey!

So here's a nice website to go to, compliments of Alice over at Finslippy: Cute Things Falling Asleep

Annnnd, my parents get back from their 20 day trip to Vietnam, so I'll be glad to see them!

P.S. I think my favorite essay typo was the "Untied States".

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Getaway weekend

I now have appreciation for the newly coined word "staycation". Thanks to the generous wedding gift (only took two years to use it) from C and M, T and I got to stay in a lovely bed and breakfast a scant 45 minutes away from home. It was just far enough to serve as a getaway: We made it out of our own area code. Truly the nicest little place, owned by a retired couple who do all the repairs and cooking. She's a former English teacher, so we talked shop, plus she makes the BEST chocolate chip cookies and cooks a mean breakfast. He redoes all the rooms and repairs himself. Roses in the room compliments of DH, plenty of videos and board games, and part of the package included a gift certificate to the Red Osier restaurant, which does not mess around with its prime rib, let me tell you. Plus T knew the owner through work, so the latter sat us down at the bar afterward for a final on-the-house drink and chat.

The inn used to be an old mill, so they have a lot of original beams and wheels and things. We walked around the property, T taught me how to play Parcheesi (I had never learned!) and I actually won once, we slept in.... Just a great birthday weekend for me. Plus the B&B is down the road from the Genesee Country Village and Museum, a "living history museum" where the people dress in period costume and you get to go into all the old houses and stores. Neither of us had been there since our respective third grade field trips, so we wandered around a bit, even though it wasn't quite open season. Unfortunately for those who work there, the 38-degree day doesn't do much when you're in a house only heated by the fireplace/oven; the one poor girl had her shawl wrapped around her so tightly I almost offered her my coat.

our room!

view from the bed (it was a pretty cozy little room-perfect)

After dinner

The whole experience was just what we needed, and we definitely want to stay there again. It reminded me that we do have so many little places to explore within a 100-mile radius. We've got museums, nature trails, historical destinations, wineries, white water rafting, Niagara Falls.... If I got a travel brochure that tourists to this area pick up, I think I'd realize my area has a lot more to offer than I realize. It's something we want to explore more in this economy and time in our lives. Do you even know half of what you can do in your town and its surroundings? See what you can find. :-) I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Monday, March 23, 2009

This sums it up nicely

Click on it to make it larger, and you'll see what I mean.

Friday, March 20, 2009

This concerns me

I read an article yesterday in the NYT about Rihanna going back to Chris Brown and how a large number of teens out there think it's either her fault ("She must have provoked him") or that Brown shouldn't get in trouble because she took him back. The article also mentioned that a lot of Chris Brown fans can't get over the idea that the press is simply villfying him, and anyone who's done videos with Elmo could not do something like that. These adolsecents "see in absolutes", so it's either right or wrong. Plus the hip-hop culture sends messages that often have tones of misogeny and aggressive male behavior (and, I think, women as objects a lot of the time)--as the article reads, it's not to blame, but it doesn't help.

I get very frustrated when I hear of teens accepting violence as something that simply happens, something they have to accept, or something that they will do to another person just because "that's the way it is". I don't think we all should go running hand-in-hand through the flowers, but stories like this slay me. I realize--not firsthand, mercifully--that getting out of an abusive relationship is not easy, even when it's the obvious choice to the outsider. How do adolescents gain good ideas about how to treat each other with the role models they choose?

I didn't mean to sound down, but as the post says, this concerns me. A lot. I'd love to know your thoughts.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I think I can live by this alone

T and I made onion rye bread. You saute the onions first, then roll them up in the dough and cook it, so they're all gooshy and soft. These carbs, I won't give up. It tastes SO GOOOOOOD....

Tonight I have a concert I'm singing in, with two pieces all about the awfulness of war, as it is a Concert for Peace. Some of the words are biblical and others come from Walt Whitman. The Whitman stuff's quite haunting and often discordant, but it somehow works. I meant to take a shower beforehand, but since a strangely high number of my choirmates have bad reactions to scented ANYTHING (hand lotion, shampoo, perfume, etc.), I am going to go slightly dirty. I don't want to cause anyone's attacks. I write that a bit facetiously--I do feel terrible that they have such bad reactions, but my being unshowered is admittedly a little tongue-in-cheek.

I'm off to eat more bread. I will brush my teeth--toothpaste doesn't bother any of them and singing with onion breath is just mean and wrong.

By the way, does everyone else love it that it's light out so late?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Google's saving energy

Just found out about this from my students: Google has a new search engine called "Blackle": It's a black background with white lettering, which saves wattage energy every time you use it.

Not quite sure what it'll do in the grand scheme of things, but I'm attempting to use less energy in my appliances if I can and it looks pretty cool.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

You know you've had a long week when....

...while out on Saturday night you look down at your feet as you chat with a Serbian rowing coach (true story) and your husband and realize you have put on two different shoes.

They were both those bootie-short-boots, grabbed in a frantic hurry from the shoe-strewn floor of my closet. Fortunately one was black and one was brown, so nobody noticed. If they did, they didn't say anything, so I believe I got away with it. Victory!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Living space

I've had this idea brewing in my head for a while amid various conversations and posts from other bloggers. It's something I've meant to expound upon for myself as well as for the blogosphere, which I know has vast interest in my brewed ideas. I shall now pour. The official title is Why We Live Where We Live.

DH and I found a house in the 'burbs after we got married. A lot of it had to do with school systems: the Buffalo public schools have a lot to be desired, with about two notable exceptions, and we figured if we were paying the taxes, why not have them pay for a great education for our future kids? We also do love having a yard, a fire pit, and an upstairs. We have a plow guy. He rocks.

We bandied about the idea of finding a place in the city of Buffalo, particularly the Elmwood Village which has cool little stores and people walking (dogs, babies, selves) and restaurants and a crazy guy who wears a wetsuit in the summer and bars and a co-op and all sorts of nifty treats like that. We thought perhaps we could find something and our future child could go to one of the few really good public/charter schools here. A couple of snags cropped up:
  • - Could we find someplace we could a) afford, b) want to live in for an extended period of time (or at all), and c) have some form of yard/measure of safety? I know you can't live in a bubble, but T honestly had more concern over that than I did. Hell, I'd worked in the Buffalo Public Schools.
  • - What if our future child did not get into one of those schools? The good charter schools are all lottery and the two really good public schools are very difficult to get into. We are not made of money and can't really afford the steep tuition of private schools or even the smaller Catholic schools. Well, we could, but we could do little else.
I realize these concerns may make me sound elitist and miserly, but hey, it's how we felt. We both love so many aspects of city living, but we realized, particularly in terms of schools, what we wanted did not fall within city limits. So we jumped on the White Flight train, if you want to look at it that way (we don't), and we found a house in one of the suburbs. I think DH's final straw came the day before we moved when, walking back from the pizza place on the corner, some kid tried to jack his pizza. Did I mention my husband's 6'5"? He told the kid to take off (well, he didn't use the word "take") and announced how glad he was to be moving when he got back. More crime, more crazies bothering you at the gas station, less space, yes.

But we used to live in that Elmwood Village, where the block clubs actually worked and I could walk to my favorite coffee house. There were actual SIDEWALKS and people of different races. We do miss that, a lot. People out here all go out to Red Lobster and Olive Garden on Saturday nights and will wait for TWO HOURS for a table. Seriously. We've sworn never to do this. It's a little hard to meet people, partly because we've been here for a relatively short time and don't know the inner workings, and partly because as DINKs (double income, no kids), we make up a minority here, thus far. For some reason I feel as though people in my 'burb don't strike up conversations in the same way people on Elmwood do. I don't know if it's a mindset or my preconception.

I suppose it's a tradeoff, just like everything else. I try very hard to maintain my friendships with people who live in Buffalo itself, and T and I make a point of going in for the occasional restaurant or party. I love living where I do, and while it has its drawbacks, I want to make a life where I am while reminding myself that a whole culture thrives a scant 15-20 minutes away. And I want to learn more about the community I'm in.

Does any of this make any sense, or have I just ranted and rambled? It is Friday afternoon, after all, and I've had a very busy week in which, for some reason, I felt that if I heard one more plaintive "Mrs. Frau..." I would scream, "WHAT?!!?!?" in the poor kid's face. Fortunately I did not do this, but I'm ready for the weekend, is what I'm sayin'.

Oh, U.S. people, don't forget to turn your clocks back. We do lose that hour of sleep but the precious sunlight will make up for it, in my mind.

Have a good one, folks! I'm off to enjoy the 50 degree weather for as long as it lasts.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


You know how when fall comes around and the air gets crisp and you get all excited to pull out your sweaters and get all toasty and warm and that first snow just makes your heart sing because it's beautiful and hooray, crazy as it may sound, winter has arrived?

Winter can go stick its head in a blender. I'm done. DONE. I now have cold hands, cracked heels, and an addiction to flannel sheets. As my dad always says, around this time of year you see old ladies crying at bus stops, possibly with a certain liquor-shaped paper bag in hand. I'm sorry--I try to keep upbeat, but sweet Georgia Brown, snow, cold temps, GO AWAY. March has come in not like a lion but like a cold, messy, frozen, gray, dirty...something. Ech. Thank goodness my birthday's coming up, or else I might go insane or really foolishly Irish it up on St. Patrick's Day. My birthday also marks the day T proposed, so that makes it memorably sweet as well. On the optimistic side (yeah, call me Pollyanna), I never know what my birthday will bring in terms of weather. 25 degrees? 40? 60? So it's exciting (or I pretend it is) not to know.

Thus I will bravely forge on, keeping in mind that one of my favorite and most talented students apparently loved me as a teacher, which makes my month because this girl in many ways is smarter than I am. That will keep me warm, that and watching Penny rush around in what's left of the snow because she is precious and fun and silly. Here you go; here's a great winter picture to make you smile: